Need winter solstice children’s activities or want to learn what is winter solstice, what is winter solstice celebration, and what are winter solstice traditions for the shortest day of the year? Celebrate winter solstice ideas with winter theme lessons and solstice activities for kids — great for winter solstice activities for the classroom, homeschooling, or family fun at home!
Winter Solstice Children’s Activities
Here are some ideas and winter solstice activities for your winter solstice celebration!
What can kids do on the winter solstice?
What do you do on the winter solstice?
- Light candles or an advent spiral (such a beautiful, calming solstice activity!) and live by candlelight or fire for the day
- Read poems for winter solstice.
- Make and share a family meal / winter solstice feast, especially made with recipes passed down from ancestors.
- Make sun bread or bake a winter and nut bread.
- Read books about winter solstice. (see our recommendations!)
- Make a winter solstice soup.
- Share stories passed down from ancestors.
- Have everyone tell what they appreciate about nature.
- Make winter solstice lanterns and use those instead of electricity lights for the day.
- Have a bonfire or burn a Yule log in the fireplace and enjoy homemade hot chocolate.
- Dry oranges for Yule.
- Pray for health in the new year.
- Do winter solstice crafts, like make a nature garland.
- Go on a winter nature walk or spiral walk / solstice stroll and journal about your appreciation for nature.
- Spread birdseed or make an easy DIY bird feeder in order to support the birds during winter.
- Exchange gifts.
- Make special warm drinks if you need winter solstice activities for adults.
(See full list of winter solstice rituals and winter solstice ideas for kids and family below!)
Now that you have solstice ideas, let’s cover how do you explain solstice to a child?
What is winter solstice explained for kids?
What happens during winter solstice?
Winter solstice, also called midwinter, occurs when the North Pole is at the maximum tilt away from the sun, which makes days shorter and temperatures colder. Once the winter solstice occurs, days gradually start to get longer again and nights start to get shorter. The winter solstice marks the longest and darkest day of the year and is also referred to as Dark Day.
While the Northern Hemisphere is experiencing winter solstice, there is no winter solstice in the southern hemisphere at the same time. The Southern Hemisphere is experiencing summer solstice—the longest period of daylight in the year.
Winter solstice is often said to be the first day of winter, even if temperatures have already been cold and wintery. However, because the date varies, winter solstice and the first day of winter may occur on different dates.
Winter solstice is also called: Midwinter, Yule, the Longest Night, Jol, Hiemal Solstice, Hibernal Solstice
Is winter solstice the shortest day of the year?
Yes, winter solstice is the shortest day of the year, or the day with the least amount of daylight all year long. Many people celebrate solstice by spending time outside during those brief day light hours.
How long does winter solstice last?
Winter solstice lasts less than 12 hours of daytime each year! That means you will have more dark hours than light hours.
When does winter solstice end?
Winter solstice is only one day. In 2021, solstice will end after December 21st.
Winter solstice: how to celebrate?
If you want to know how to celebrate winter solstice with your family, focus on spending family time together. When winter solstice arrives, be prepared with some solstice activities! (See our full list of what do you do on the winter solstice below!)
What are some popular traditions associated with winter solstice?
Historically, events like solstices were used by people to mark different time periods like:
- Planting of crops
- Monitoring food reserves for the winter (or, the “famine months”) to avoid starvation
- Actions of animals (like mating seasons) and butchering seasons
What is the winter solstice and when does it occur?
When Is Winter Solstice?
What date is winter solstice 2021:
If you’re wondering when does winter solstice start, the winter solstice date occurs around December 21st each year. Winter Solstice 2021 is Tuesday, December 21, 2021 at 10:59 a.m. EST.
How long is the winter solstice?
So, how long is the shortest day of the year? The winter solstice in the Northern Hemisphere is less than 12 hours of day time. In 2021, winter solstice will last just short of 9 hours.
How much longer do days get after the winter solstice?
The days gradually start to get longer after winter solstice, all the way to summer solstice, or when the longest day of the year occurs.
Winter Solstice Origin and Who celebrates Winter Solstice?
What is winter solstice celebration?
Many different cultures celebrate winter solstice. Because the days start to get longer after winter solstice, it is often celebrated as a time of rebirth and many cultures and belief systems spend time celebrating winter solstice.
Winter Solstice Origin
Winter solstice is believed to have originated as far back as the last part of the Stone Age, based on the stone monuments that (especially in Ireland and Scotland) that align with the sun during the winter solstice.
Is winter solstice Christmas?
In Scandinavia, Yule (sometimes called Christmas) is celebrated from the winter solstice through January. However, in other cultures, winter solstice and Christmas are two distinct celebrations.
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Is winter solstice a pagan holiday?
Winter solstice was seen for some as a pagan holiday, including different rituals honoring nature. For others, it was a time to prepare for winter. Today, many different people from many different backgrounds and religious beliefs celebrate winter solstice for different reasons.
What religion celebrates winter solstice?
Winter solstice is often called a pagan celebration, but it is celebrated and honored by many different people with many different belief systems.
Early on, because following changing seasons was such an important part of survival, some cultures worshipped gods (like the sun).
The Norsemen of Northern Europe saw the sun as a wheel that changed the seasons.
It was from the word for this wheel, houl, that the word yule is thought to have come.
At mid-winter the Norsemen lit bonfires, told stories and drank sweet ale.
Winter Solstice Traditions Around the World and Rituals for Winter Solstice
When trying to understand what is winter solstice, you have to look at the traditions and winter solstice rituals and how others honor the winter solstice holiday.
A winter solstice celebration and rituals for winter solstice vary based on different cultures.
Here are some examples of winter solstice traditions around the world and how to honor winter solstice:
Winter Solstice in Australia
Winter solstice in Australia is actually on June 21, 2022, at 7:13 p.m.
Remember, the Southern hemisphere winter solstice is at a different time of year than the winter solstice Northern Hemisphere!
Australians celebrate winter solstice by:
- Burning a yule log in the hearth and keeping part of the ashes to use in next year’s solstice fire
- Enjoy food and drinks with friends and family
- Taking advantage of the shortest day of light by spending as much time outside as possible hiking and enjoying nature
- Giving back to nature
The winter solstice traditions southern hemisphere are very similar to the Northern hemisphere, just celebrated at a different time!
Winter Solstice in Japan
In Japan, winter solstice is called tōji and celebrates harmony and balance.
During winter solstice in Japan, it is tradition to:
- Take a hot bath with yuzu, a citrus fruit used for its cleansing and healing.
- Eat kabocha squash and “auspicious” vegetables, or those thought to bring success.
- G0 to a winter solstice festival like Toji Matsuri or Tojisai, where there is a bonfire and individuals pray for the cleansing of their soul and health in the upcoming year.
Winter Solstice Traditions in England
You may have already heard about the traditions in England, because Winter Solstice at Stonehenge is known worldwide.
Many people gather at Stonehenge “the day after the longest night” (or the day after solstice) at dawn to watch the sun rising through the stones.
Although we’re not sure exactly why Stonehenge was built, some research suggests that winter solstice festivals occurred there.
Winter Solstice Traditions in China
China’s winter solstice tradition is thousands of years old. It marks the end of harvest season and centers around family gatherings.
During the gathering, traditional tang yuan, or rice balls, are eaten.
Just like Japan, the Chinese winter solstice also focuses on yin and yang, or balancing darkness and light.
Winter Solstice Traditions in Guatemala
In some parts of Guatemala, the winter solstice is a mix of Catholic traditions and Mayan rituals and last for the week leading up to winter solstice.
There are parades with brightly colored masks and costumes, as well as fireworks and music.
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Winter Solstice Traditions in Arizona
In Arizona, Indigenous Hopi celebrate winter solstice as part of kachina or katsina.
The Soyal ceremony is held to bring the sun back from its “winter slumber” using traditional, ritual dances, prayer sticks, and kachina dolls.
The ceremony also includes:
- Prayers for the upcoming year.
- Singing and dancing.
- Gifts for the children.
Many different winter solstice traditions were adapted and are used today for religious and secular Christmas traditions like the Christmas tree, wreath, and Yule log.
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13 Winter Solstice Activities and Solstice Lesson Plan Ideas
Your celebration of winter solstice can include learning about the science of solstice and other fun activities and winter solstice party ideas!
Snuggle down, make homemade hot chocolate, and read books related to winter solstice for winter solstice children’s activities:
Hope you enjoyed learning what is winter solstice! If you have tips on how you celebrate solstice, leave them in the comments so we can add them to our list!